💻 M1 Mac Review

First Published: 2023-10-30

M1 Mac Review

Last Friday I rented an m1 Mac for a month to give it a thorough test drive. Here are my thoughts.

DejaVu

This is not the first time that I try out Mac OS. Last time I tried it about a year ago, ending with me returning the unit within 24 hours of purchase. Back then I was still very adamant about customisation and when my misguided attempt to shoehorn my arch ricer setup into Mac OS failed, I gave up. This time I’m a lot more accommodating. I’m trying out Mac OS as intended this time, no shoe-horning!

Motivation

The Motivation is also that several of the more heavy apps caused trouble on my Linux setup in recent times. Those included mainly jetbrains IDEs necessary for college classes. I have also kind of developed my dotfiles into a corner, with not much moving these days. Furthermore AwesomeWM is failing at its most basic job, window management, with some windows getting stuck in full-screen seemingly at random, to a point where even closing and reopening does not fix it.

Combined with the fortunate financial circumstances of being able to afford an entry level M1 MacBook Air, I wanted to give Mac OS another try.

The Hardware

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, the M1 MacBook Air is an incredible piece of tech. The Speakers and Trackpad are the best I’ll ever see in a laptop. The build quality is perfect. The screen and keyboard are a joy to interact with. Only downside: lacking ports, not even a single USB-A.

Performance wise, it’s also pretty impressive, being able to run my most demanding compatible game: XCOM 2 at 1440p Medium, which is nowhere near playable on the Tuxedo Aura 15.

Let’s talk battery life. On the extreme end, 1.5 hours of XCOM 2 depleted the battery from 97 to 37%. In more modest applications it's battery life rather impressive, lasting for a full day of college. The included usb-c charger appears to be of high quality with a long enough cable for my needs.

Perhaps most important to me, it's fanless!

I really like the hardware!

Initial Setup

My first steps consisted of installing homebrew and enabling both FileVault and the builtin firewall. Then I used home-brew to install Brave to replace Safari as the default browser, rectangle to enable quarter tiling and also tiling of windows via dragging/snapping. Then I installed the other applications and utilities I use: zstd, gnupg, git, keepassxc, emacs and steam.

I recommend enabling tap to click as well as the option to drag windows (or other selections) via a three finger gesture. Pro tip: a two finger click is equivalent to a traditional right click.

Note that I have not set up an Apple ID

Mac OS Features I like

Annoyances

Will I continue to use it?

Yes, I probably will. Unless there are any surprises, I’ll be buying a base model M1 MacBook Air in December. If I have any doubts about that purchase I may extend my current lease by another 3-6 months. The trackpad heavy workflow of Mac OS has grown on me incredibly quickly and spotlight has shown me some great features that I’ll replicate on linux should things go south.


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